Off to play the Wizard: Building confidence through dramatic art


By Farida Master

Unbelievable is how Dannemora resident Ethan Korewha describes the moment he heard that he’d been cast as the lead in the National Youth Theatre Company’s (NYTC)  latest production The Wizard of Oz, opening on Friday November 29.

The 21-year-old is thrilled to play the Wizard.

“It’s an absolute privilege,” he says about being part of the enchanting musical drawn from the all-time classic MGM screenplay that celebrates its 80th birthday this year.

“I had auditioned for the Tinman but then decided to give the lead role a shot. I didn’t expect to be playing the character of the Wizard and Professor Marvel in two of the shows. I love being part of the theatre so much that I’d be happy even if I got into the chorus,” he says.

Ethan, who has been associated with the NYTC since he was 14, has acted in 17 shows to date with the NYTC. These include a variety of roles in classics including Annie, Cats, Shrek, Oliver, Peter Pan, Shrek, Aladdin and Pinocchio.

It didn’t take Ethan long to realise that if you want to be in the cast in the NYTC’s two productions a year, you have to be quick.

Till recently, it took three minutes for the registrations to fill up. The last time he was half an hour late to register interest for the Cats production, he found himself on a long waiting list.

The Wizard of Oz is NYTC’s 30th production. The charitable trust has been working since 2004 to bring confidence and life skills to young people through the dramatic theatrical arts.

Ethan Korewha has acted in 17 shows to-date with the NYTC and is thrilled to be cast as one of the leads in The Wizard of Oz musical. Photo supplied

Ethan is particularly proud of winning a scholarship in 2015 for his role in Seussical.

Twice a year, the NYTC team selects two people to receive the scholarship. To qualify they must show dedication, talent and a definite and marked improvement.

The Wizard of Oz has a cast of 320 kids with 240 performing on stage.

For Ethan who is now also doing part-time acting work, this will be his second-to-last show, with the last one being The Little Mermaid where his younger brother Ricco will be on stage for the first time.

The home-schooled 21-year-old knows he will have to leave NYTC once he turns 22 and hopes to continue to be associated with it.

“It’s such a good feeling entertaining people with singing and dancing. I don’t ever want to give it up,” he says.

The Wizard of Oz will also have over 5000 school children and teachers attend matinee shows on Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29.


 Kiri Te Kanawa, Aotea Centre

On: Friday November 29 at 7 pm, Saturday November 30 at 1.30pm and 7 pm, Sunday December1 at 1.30pm.